How To Create A Strong Password

Many websites require a user to register a user name and password in order to gain access and privileges on the site. Any type of financial institution (bank, credit card, etc) certainly requires a password to gain access to your account; this provides protection against identity theft and fraud. A strong password offers you greater protection against a hacker trying to gain access to your information.

My first recommendation would be to use RoboForm. I’ve personally used it for years, and don’t know how anyone who has to remember a lot of different log in and password combinations can work without it. I’m hoping you don’t rely on your browser to memorize your passwords for you. That’s a disaster waiting to happen!

If you’re insistent on doing things the hard way, here are some suggestions for creating strong passwords:

1 Keep your passwords private and do not share them with others. It may seem very elementary but if you must share a password with someone, anyone, remember to immediately change it to something else.

2 Pick a password that is meaningless to others. Choose a password that you can remember (or use a password manager like RoboForm) but make sure the password is completely meaningless to anyone else.

3 A password should be a minimum of eight characters in length. Many banking websites will simply not allow a password less than eight characters in length and some are even switching to 16 characters or more.

4 Don’t use a password containing all of the same characters. Choose a password that contains numbers, letters, and symbol characters. Y@Tery2ya! is an example of a strong password.

5 Create a password with both lowercase and uppercase letters. This makes it more difficult for hackers and thieves to utilize more common methods of password cracking such as automated dictionary hurlers.

6 Never send your password via email or provide it over the phone. If you absolutely have to, always remember to change it once the recipient has finished doing whatever it is they needed the password for in the first place and no longer needs it.

7 Try to create a password that is not a dictionary word. These passwords are easier to hack and to plainly guess. Yahoo recently reported that the most commonly used password is actually “password”! Do not do this; it is a ridiculously easy password to guess and your accounts could be compromised.

8 Never use your telephone number, zip code, address or portions of your social security number.

9 Passwords are not foolproof. Do not rely on a password alone to protect sensitive information. Monitor accounts closely to ensure that security is not being breached.

10 Use a sentence or common saying that you will remember to help you create your random password. For example you may use ‘I really love the Lexus SC-430!’ and your password would appear as IrltheLS-43! which is a much more difficult password to guess or crack than using simply lexus430.

Hopefully you have secured all of your log in and passwords with something more secure than an easy to guess word or birthday. Remember, you only have one identity… protect it!

Until next time…

Follow me on Twitter


5 Best Free Software Programs

You know how expensive software can be, but some great software doesn’t cost a dime. Five free programs to help you save and manage your financial life.

Know of any other free software programs or utilities? Share them with our readers. Use the comment box below and tell us about others you might use.

Some Twitter Tools to Consider

Managing Twitter can be a daunting task, especially after you’ve started following a lot of people, and have a lot of people following (or trying to follow) you.  I’ll explain more about the “Trying to follow you” comment in a moment.

Once you outgrow the basic foundation for following others using Twitter’s web based tool (yeah, the one you get when you first sign up for your Twitter account), you’ll soon find it almost impossible to follow your timeline when there are a lot of “tweets” and maybe you haven’t logged on for a while. (Even overnight a lot of tweets can pile up. Remember, Twitter is worldwide, so not everyone is sleeping when you are.)

Hands down, the leader in “Twitter Management Utilities” seems to be “TweetDeck“. Think of TweetDeck as your browser/organizer for all of your Twitter activity.  TweetDeck shows you everything you want to see at once, so you can stay organized and up to date.  I highly recommend anyone “tweeting” at all to get started early with TweetDeck.  Spend a few minutes going through the features, and you’ll be a “TweetDeck Specialist” in no time.

With TweetDeck, you can not only manage your Twitter updates (tweets), but you can also manage your Facebook updates as well. You can choose to send the same message to both Twitter and Facebook simultaneously, or one or the other separately. You choose with one click of your mouse.

TweetDeck updates itself so you don’t have to be refreshing anything like you do if you’re viewing your Twitter timeline from Twitter itself. Use columns to create your personal dashboard, creating groups to easily manage all of the tweets of those you are following.

TweetDeck is a free download. I suggest you give it a test drive. I think you’ll keep it.


Once you’ve started following some folks, and others have started following you, you’ll begin to realize that figuring out who’s following you or not, becomes a bit of a challenge.  Another neat little utility I discovered that solves this is called “Twitter Karma.”

Basically, Twitter Karma is a Flash application that fetches those you follow, and those who follow you, letting you quickly paginate through them. Let’s face it, scrolling through page after page after page of followers can be a bit cumbersome. Twitter Karma, by default,  lists all those you follow and all of your followers and sorts them by last update, showing those who most recently updated first. You can sort the list alphabetically either ascending or descending by Twitter ID. You can filter the list in several ways: only those you follow, or only followers, all friends or all followers, and mutual friends.

What Twitter Karma allows you to do is basically see ALL of your followers, and all of the people who follow you, all on one screen, with little red and green arrows that tell you at a quick glance just who’s following you and who you’re following. You then can mass edit your lists, all with one mouse click.  You do have to enter your Twitter ID and password, or you can sign in with Twitter and let Twitter’s API handle the sign in for you.Try it out, I think you’ll bookmark this one.

This neat little utility even tells you when the last time someone you’re following has updated, so you can easily stop following someone if they are never updating. Use any criteria you’d like in sorting and updating your entire list. Get more information on Twitter Karma here.


For those of you using FireFox as your browser, a nifty little extension for FireFox is “TwitterFox.”  TwitterFox notifies you of your friends’ tweets on Twitter.  This extension adds a tiny icon on the FireFox status bar which notifies you when your friends update their tweets.  Also it has a small text input field to update your tweets.  If you use FireFox, check out TwitterFox.


Anyone used to blogging and familiar with the Future Post feature of most blogging software will appreciate “twAitter.”  If you have a Twitter account, you already have a twAitter account. Here are twAiter’s main features:

Schedule: Schedule your twitter messages
Recurring: Set your twitter messages to send on recurring basis: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
Calendar:Manage your scheduled messages (Twaits) with our powerful calendar tool that works just like your Outlook calendar.
Feeds:Register your blog or business RSS feed with twaitter and have your new posts automatically sent to twitter. (coming soon)
Schedule in Mass:Have a lot to say and a lot to schedule? Upload a file with your messages in twAiter’s file format and they’ll be happy to schedule all the twaits for you. (Coming Soon) *subject to Twitter message sending limits.

Personal use of twAiter is free, and businesses are allowed up to 500 messages per month for business use, but according to the twAiter website, they just launched, and no is counting right now anyway. Give twAiter a try.


One utility that I do NOT condone or use is “TwitterMass.”   TwitterMass fully automates the process of growing your Twitter network by following people based on a keyword universe you create. TwitterMass works in such a way that it rewards people who follow you back and removes people who do not. In the end TwitterMass is a system that fully automates your Twitter outreach and exponentially grows your niche Twitter network.

If you’re looking for a utility to automate your followers, this might fit the bill for you. Personally, I prefer to build my followers myself, and I like to choose who I follow. I don’t want some piece of software building my list for me. That’s just plain creepy to me. But if putting Twitter on auto-pilot is your thing, then check out “TwitterMass.”


There are probably a few dozen (or more) other utilities and tools for use with Twitter, but these are the ones I have used (except for TwitterMass). If you know of others, I’d love to hear about them. Leave me a comment and tell me about others you’ve used, what you like or don’t like, and where they can be found. (A link would be great). 😉


That’s it for now.  Until next time…

Follow me on Twitter!


Should You Defrag Your Hard Drive?

Is it worthwhile to defragment your hard drive? The answer is yes, but newer drive technology is likely to reduce the speed gains. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions regarding defragmentation:

  • Defrag early and fairly often. If you believe the best defense is a good offense, it’s probably wise to set up a defragmentation schedule beginning when you’ve installed software on a new system. If you’re running Windows Vista, this is simple. If not, you can use the Windows Scheduler to do the job. The defrag utility will do its best work when there’s plenty of free space on the drive. This also allows key system files to be written to the disk in order. Most experts seem to feel defragmentation should be run no more than once a week, but no less than once per month.
  • Add more memory. It’s not nearly as costly as it used to be and it will improve your computer’s performance in virtually every way. In terms of disk storage, more memory enables the system to cache more data, reducing the effects of fragmentation.
  • Clean up and add disk capacity. A disk drive that’s less than 50 percent full is less likely to be slowed by fragmentation. It’s also easier to defragment. Given the vastly reduced cost of disk drives, adding more capacity is a quick and easy speed booster. Don’t forget to delete unused files from your hard drive from time to time. The more free space there is, the faster your programs will run.
  • Replace old drives. If your disk drive is more than two or three years old, you could speed processing up considerably by replacing it with a new drive that is faster and offers enhanced file caching capabilities. As a bonus, when you copy your existing files to the new drive, they’ll be defragmented automatically as an integral part of the process.

Until next time…

Follow me on Twitter